It's called "Women on the Right Unite," and it's an initiative coming from all of the major segments of the Republican Party from the Republican National Committee to the Republican Senate and Congressional Committees on down to College Republicans . The goal is to get more women elected on the Republican side in the 2014 election cycle and beyond. The activities will include candidate recruitment, funding, and more.
I have been waiting, and not so patiently, for the Republicans to wake up to the fact that their female elected officials are fantastic (the #1 Republican in the House Rep.Cathy McMorris Rodgers to start off the list with....), and that the time has arrived for them to leverage these women with more women. I say this as a former Democrat, now proud Independent. It is critical to elect more women on both sides of the aisle, and the Republicans have been lagging behind. This "lagging" hurts not only the Republican brand, it hurts all women and all women's politics.
The Democrats have long enjoyed an advantage of having the reputation of being the party for women. Although it may have been deserved back in the 70's and the 80's a bit, and although there are more Democratic women in the U.S. Congress, the numbers hardly support the Democrat's distinction in this regard. If you have been the "party of women" for over 40 years and can't get more than 18% of your ilk elected to Congress, you hardly have anything to brag about. And some of those 18% aren't even Democrats. Oh I suppose that an argument could be made that these Republican women wouldn't have been elected had it not been for the atmosphere created by the Democrats, but it would be the weakest of arguments. No----to consider that the Dems are STILL the party of women would be to accept a standard that sets the bar too low. We deserve better than that!!!!!!!!!!!
Enter the Republicans, a party with its share of screw ups concerning women. The first screw up, imho, is that the R's don't spend enough time highlighting their amazing elected female officials. My friend T tells me that the main reason is that Republicans, in a pure ideological sense, don't believe in slicing and dicing the electorate into "interest groups or ethnic groups, etc." That is a fine philosophy as far as it goes. I mean, who wouldn't want to live in an America where your ethnic background or your gender mattered not a whit but that it was all about your abilities and the content of your character. I'd love to live in that America myself----who wouldn't?
Sadly, we not only haven't arrived at that moment, we are light years away from it. And also sadly, to have that ideal front and center has completely stalled women out on the Republican side. It has made it more than impossible for women to advance in the kind of numbers that their Democratic sisters can. And it has made it easier for the misogynists to dump on women or at the very least has made it easier to not support women. We've talked many times on this blog about the visceral, unspoken but powerful forces that prevent women from rising in proportion to their numbers. Much has been written about this topic of late and many theories are advanced as to why women in the U.S. have not advanced to the top (see links in the right column with statistics). All theories have merit, but I still believe that the U.S. is not ready to have women in charge of much because of fear------deep rooted, visceral discomfort in the whole idea. The proof is in the ridiculous amount of hypocritical push back against any women who tries to go for it. That pushback is bipartisan in nature and cloaks itself in "any woman, just not THAT woman" for starters and continues on skewering women for views that hardly produce a yawn when put forth by men.
It is critically important that BOTH parties fight to get more women elected, and I was THRILLED to see this piece on BlogHer by Sharon Day, co-Chair of the Republican National Committee which threaded the needle against the "interest group" bias on the right. She asserts that "women are not an interest group" and goes on to say that women are the majority of voters, 53%, and need better representation. WOO HOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Of course the left will continue to try to minimize the many women on the right, a stance that loses them credibility as fighters for women. If you are going to support women, you must support ALL women, not just the ones you agree with. The left has this nasty habit of going into hypocritical convulsions when their own are attacked in a manner they deem as sexist, but they are quite capable of returning the sexist vitriol when the tables are turned. Hypocrisy is an extremely unattractive trait, but worse, it is divisive. and as long as women are divided, we will continue to fight each other to the death and remain on the bottom for female representation in government. A new way must be found.
Lastly, it is critical for the Republicans to make the case as to why their brand is actually good for women. A tremendous case can be made on that score. The Republican Conference Chair in the U.S. House, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers has made a fine argument to that effect. And get a glimpse of some of these wonderful women on the Republican side! Whether you agree with them or not, these women deserve respect for their accomplishments. But more importantly, we need wonderful women ON BOTH SIDES OF THE AISLE in numbers proportional to us. You may be a Dem who hates R's or vice versa. But consider the idea of why the "other side" whichever that is to you must be mostly men. It is counterintuitive to the argument of equality to insist that that is so. In my mind, a more enlightened modern feminism would be to remove our visceral distaste for putting women in power and elect lots of women on both sides. In doing so we could start living up to our promise of equality in America, a promise that is still but a distant dream.
So I am thrilled to see the Republicans step forward with an initiative to do just that. I am cheering the whole effort on------go go go!!!!!!!